Musik Music Musique 3.0 – 1982 Synth Pop On The Air compilation album review

23 01 2023

Musik Music Musique 3.0 – 1982 Synth Pop On The Air is the third 3CD compilation from Cherry Red, released on 17 February 2023. Featuring more obscure tracks from well-known artists from 1982, including Thomas Dolby, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, Japan, Ultravox, Soft Cell and Kim Wilde, alongside lesser known acts that give the collection a real taste of the time.

CD one of the collection opens with Thomas Dolby’s third single, a homage to Radio Caroline, the percussive Radio Silence. Manchester’s The Passage deliver the electronic pop of XOYO, with its addictive chorus. Mirror Man has always been one of my favourite early Talk Talk singles, with the band going on to make such a valuable contribution to 80s and early 90s music as their style expanded from these early pop beginnings.

OMD’s She’s Leaving comes in the form of a slightly remixed European single version, and is one of the key tracks on the bands Architecture And Morality album from the previous year. Breakdown (1982 Single Version) from Colourbox features a heady mix of synth, guitar and percussion topped with soulful vocals, hinting at the experimentation that would culminate in the one off M|A|R|R|S collaboration that led to the No1 single for Pump Up The Volume in 1987.

I’ve Seen The Word (a double A side with God’s Kitchen) was one of the slower-paced, more reflective early singles from Blancmange. One of the most influential early 80’s synth bands, Fashion, contribute the Zeus B Held produced slice of pop-Electronica that is Streetplayer (Mechanik), taken from their wonderful Fabrique album.

Japan’s European Son is a David Sylvian song that drips with Giorgio Moroder sounding hard-synth lines, but Moroder actually passed up the opportunity to produce this song, with production duties handled by Simon Napier-Bell, with the song mixed by John Punter. Always one of the bands most commercial songs, it fits well on Musik Music Musique 3.0. Justice is performed by Paul Haig, the former guitarist, vocalist and songwriter for post-punk band Josef K. Justice is a previously hard to find, very commercial single recorded in New York in 1982. Paul worked with former Associates singer Billy Mackenzie in the late 80s and contributed to several much-loved posthumous releases from his former colleague.

The original Mike Howlett produced single version of Tears For Fears Pale Shelter from this compilation highlights the longevity of much of the duo’s work. Last years The Tipping Point added to the bands stellar discography. Arthur Brown (yes, the Fire Arthur Brown) offers a synth based track, with wonderful electronic percussion that is a complete departure from his past work.

Coded World by Faith Global is one of the more interesting lesser-known tracks on this compilation. Vocalist Jason Guy is joined by original Tiger Lily / Ultravox! guitarist Stevie Shears for this confident, well-structured song. The later, more successful version of Ultravox are represented by the instrumental Monument, the B side to the single Hymn.

Disc two kicks off with Dramatis (Gary Numan’s backing band) with their sixth single The Shame. The Fiat Lux b-side This Illness was produced by Bill Nelson, and has touches of Nelson’s sound from around this time. Bill’s brother Ian was a member of this short-lived band. The track is one that Bill Nelson fans will surely love. Tasteful bass and guitar lines are a highlight of Shame, with a real Chimera feel to the keyboards.

The 7″ version of New Order’s early classic single Temptation is a highlight of Musik Music Musique 3.0. Dead Or Alive’s What I Want, here in demo form, is a world away from their massive hit You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) that followed in 1984. What I Want has more new wave leanings, and a harder vocal from the late Pete Burns.

Ieya 1982 is a re-recorded version of the Toyah single that originally featured on 1980’s The Blue Meaning. A smoother, tighter arrangement compared to the original take, it highlights the contributions of the new band line-up.

“Isn’t it nice, sugar and spice
Luring disco dollies to a life of vice”

Sex Dwarf is the lyrically and musically uncompromising side to Soft Cell, taken from late 1981’s debut album Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret, hence why it was able to sneak onto this compilation. Sex Dwarf is the duo of Marc Almond and Dave Ball at their shocking, seediest best, and they still have the power to deliver, have a listen to 2022’s magnificent Happiness Not Included album (available on CD and vinyl).

The slinky bassline of You Remind Me Of Gold is a highlight of the Mirror Man b-side from The Human League. Edinburgh’s Drinking Electricity contribute the Altered Images via The Loco-Motion twisted pop of Good Times, which sounds better than my description of the song.

The third and final disc is launched by one of Heaven 17’s finest singles, of which there were many, with Let Me Go!

An early Thomas Leer song, Mr Nobody, stands up well as a brilliantly arranged and not at all dated track. Thomas formed Act in the late 80s with Claudia Brücken (Propaganda). Their only album Laughter, Tears and Rage included the wonderful Snobbery and Decay, and is worth tracking down.

The compilation has gone for a less obvious Kim Wilde track, the melancholic late 1982 single Child Come Away. Prior to their success on the Top Gun soundtrack, Berlin were delivering songs in the vein of the Giorgio Moroder inspired synth-pop of Sex (I’m A….).

Mikado’s Par Hasard is a sweet, gentle pop song released on Les Disques du Crépuscule. Scotland’s Those French Girls second and final single Sorry Sorry is a Simple Minds meets Ultravox piece of quirky angular pop. The most well-known song by cult artist Nick Nicely is featured, the lysergic widescreen pop of Hilly Fields (1892). If you have never heard this song, you are in for a treat.

Ukraine, featuring former Fischer-Z keyboard player Stephen Skolnik, is a heady mix of early 80s synths, with new wave guitar and Fashion-like percussive bass. The bands Remote Control is a delightful taste of the genre crossovers that fueled a lot of the great music created in 1982.

1-2-3 is an 80s updating of the 1965 Len Barry song, performed by Julie And The Jems, the sole single release from former Tight Fit vocalist Julie Harris.

Thick Pigeon (Miranda Stanton and American film composer Carter Burwell) contribute the delightfully eccentric Subway, a mixture of new wave bass and sugar-sweet electronics, topped by Stanton’s unique spoken vocals. One listen will result in this song becoming lodged in your brain for days.

Sergeant Frog, with the instrumental Profile Dance, is an alias of Phil Harding, who went on to work with Stock Aitken Waterman a couple of years later. Harding’s resume as engineer and producer included The Clash, Toyah, Matt Bianco, ABC and Donna Summer.

The final disc ends with The Buggles infuenced electro-pop of Omega Theatre with their epic Robots, Machines And Silicon Dreams. Omega Theatre was the electronic pop project of 60s songwriter John Shakespeare. Shakespeare and Grammy-winning co-writer Geoff Stephens threw the kitchen sink at Robots, Machines And Silicon Dreams, with multiple shifts and turns throughout this pleasing single.

Buy Musik Music Musique 3.0 on CD from Amazon

DISC ONE
Thomas Dolby – Radio Silence
The Passage – XOYO
Talk Talk – Mirror Man
100% Manmade Fibre – Green For Go
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – She’s Leaving
Poeme Electronique – V.O.I.C.E.
Colourbox – Breakdown (1982 Single Version)
Blancmange – I’ve Seen The Word
Fashiøn – Streetplayer (Mechanik)
Japan – European Son
Greeting No 4 – Condition
Richard Bone – Digital Days
Paul Haig – Justice
Tears For Fears – Pale Shelter
Arthur Brown – Conversations
Die Krupps – Goldfinger
Planning By Numbers – Lightning Strikes
Faith Global – Coded World
Aerial FX – Instant Feeling
Ultravox – Monument

DISC TWO
Dramatis – The Shame
Fiat Lux – This Illness
New Order – Temptation
Kevin Coyne – Tell The Truth
Dead Or Alive – What I Want (Demo)
Toyah – Ieya 1982
Fad Gadget – Life On The Line
Thirteen At Midnight – Climb Down
Soft Cell – Sex Dwarf
Yello – Heavy Whispers
Zoo Boutique – Happy Families
The Human League – You Remind Me Of Gold
Moebius – Pushing Too Hard
Passion Polka – Juliet
Endgames – First-Last-For Everything (Club Version)
Leisure Process – Love Cascade
Drinking Electricity – Good Times
Section 25 – Hold Me

DISC THREE
Heaven 17 – Let Me Go!
Voice Farm – Beatnik
Telex – Sigmund Freud’s Party
Thomas Leer – Mr Nobody
Kim Wilde – Child Come Away
Communication – Future Shock
Berlin – Sex (I’m A….)
Local Boy Makes Good – Hypnotic Rhythm
Mikado – Par Hasard
Falco – Maschine Brennt
Those French Girls – Sorry Sorry
Nick Nicely – Hilly Fields (1892)
Time In Motion – Quiet Type
Ukraine – Remote Control
Julie And The Jems – 1-2-3
Thick Pigeon – Subway
Sergeant Frog – Profile Dance
Omega Theatre – Robots, Machines And Silicon Dreams

Buy Musik Music Musique 3.0 on CD from Amazon


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